Drawbacks of Epoxy Flooring
Time: 01:37

Epoxy coatings have been used for years on concrete floors in commercial settings, and more recently as a traffic-resistant decorative coating on residential garage floors (see Garage Floor Coatings). Many contractors like epoxies because they produce a long-lasting high-gloss finish with superior hardness and abrasion resistance. However, despite their protective benefits, traditional epoxies have some drawbacks that can limit their use on certain projects, such as long concrete curing times before application (typically a minimum of 30 days), loss of adhesion in the presence of moisture, and the tendency to yellow when exposed to ultraviolet light. Most traditional epoxies also are two-component systems that require mixing at the proper ratio right before use. To overcome some of these disadvantages, manufacturers have recently introduced advanced epoxies with greater permeability, better UV stability, faster curing times and more convenient single-component application. Some examples:

DRYLOK Concrete Protector. United Gilsonite Laboratories in Scranton, PA

One-part systems

Several manufacturers now offer one-part ready-to-use epoxies that require no mixing before application. Examples include Drylok from United Gilsonite Laboratories and Powercoat One from Vexcon Chemicals. These user-friendly epoxies are said to compare in performance to two-part systems and are suitable for both residential and commercial applications, including garage floors, driveways, basements, commercial showrooms, gas stations and restaurants. They resist hot-tire marks, chemicals, oil, grease and gasoline stains. They also are UV-stable and won't yellow or chalk when applied to exterior slabs.

Moisture vapor transmission through polyacrylate terrazzo joints. Key Resin Company in Batavia, OH

Breathable epoxies

Most epoxy floor coatings are impermeable to moisture and can fail if applied to damp substrates or to slabs with high moisture-vapor emission rates (see What Problems Does Moisture Create?). To help avert these moisture-related failures, Key Resin Co. has developed Epocon, a seamless epoxy floor coating that is said to be 100 times more permeable than standard epoxies. This breathable, two-component system will even bond to damp substrates and to new concrete slabs after only four or five days of curing, making it ideal for fast-track projects.

Vexcon Chemicals' Powercoat One (described above) also allows the passage of moisture vapor, but does require a primer coat before application to new concrete.

Fast-setting epoxies

Many epoxies require a minimum drying time of 24 hours before they can be recoated (depending on application temperatures and humidity conditions) and must cure for several days before they can accept traffic. Epoxy Systems' new fast-setting epoxy coating is a two-component waterborne product that dries to the touch in just 20 minutes and reaches thorough drying within 12 hours.

Note: All of these new epoxies are water-based and low in VOCs and odor. They also are available in pigmented finishes or can be tinted.

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